USDA needs to take a more active role in poultry safety

Mike Brown, president of the National Poultry Council, in a recent op-ed for The Hill, “Looking for a Problem, a Solution: The USDA’s Unnecessary Intrusion into the Poultry Industry,” said food safety and labor advocacy groups , calling them a front for “extremist activists” calling for “safety and workforce advocacy.” The end of livestock farming. But protecting consumers, farmers and slaughterhouse workers from abuse by the poultry industry is by no means radical.

Think food safety. Chicken may seem cheap, but when you consider the cost of food poisoning, consumers are buying cheap.chicken makes more people sick Other categories There is also the influence of salmonella, and food To contaminate 1 in about 25 packages Chicken from the grocery store.part of this Salmonella It is extremely toxic.Just a few bacterial cells or “colony forming units” (enough to be transmitted by a drop of melted water from a thawed chicken breast package) can cause serious illness, and even teeth deathEspecially among very young, very old and immunocompromised consumers.

No one should wear protective clothing to prepare dinner. If poultry companies were more likely to be held responsible for food poisoning outbreaks, they would invest more in product safety. Under current USDA regulations, there is nothing stopping a company from deliberately selling chicken highly contaminated with even the most toxic antibiotic-resistant substances. Salmonella. To make matters worse, the USDA’s dysfunctional regulation could make matters worse, creating incentives for companies to: develop a vaccine Products contaminated with disease-prone Salmonella strains increase against common but relatively harmless Salmonella strains.

The sad state of affairs has led several large poultry companies to work with consumer advocacy groups and academic experts. in calling A mandatory product standard for poultry. The USDA recently proposed such standards for a narrow range of products. frozen breaded raw chicken, many consumers mistakenly think it is cooked. After the Canadian government adopted a similar policy for these products in his 2019, Salmonella Infection decreased by 16 percent, a surprising result given the small proportion of these products in the poultry retail market. USDA regulators can hardly be blamed for wanting to adopt this type of cost-effective reform.

Nor should anyone criticize the USDA for trying to protect contract chicken farmers. Mr. Brown tries to make you believe that poultry companies favor contract farmers over shareholders and isolate them from the market. Poultry production is being organized to convert peasants to serfs.Poultry farmers usually take home $1 million or more Loans to build poultry houses to company specifications. They are responsible for cleaning up the large amount of waste left by the chickens. This means that the mortgaged property cannot be used for almost any other task.

Growers don’t have a choice of who they sell their birds to, and companies pay them based on a “tournament” where they compete against other growers who ship birds that week. Companies choose winners and losers by choosing who enters the tournament, which chicks they get, and what kind of care those chickens receive (also controlled by the industry). As a result, producers are often unable to pay their debts and are forced to continually renew their contracts to serve the company.Ann estimated 71 percent Living below the federal poverty line.

USDA was suggested rule and Suggesting more plans, aimed at some of the worst exploits of the contract poultry producer system. The rule requires poultry integrators to be transparent with prospective and current contract poultry producers about the terms of their contracts and the actual income they will receive. It also prohibits deceptive contracting practices that companies use to lock producers into their systems, strengthens protections against producer discrimination and retaliation, and protects against the unfair and unfair practices that have plagued agriculture since Upton Sinclair. provide producer rights (which we hope) against abuse by violent companies. . These are policies that the American people support, regardless of political position.

The same applies to the reforms needed to protect poultry factory workers. Poultry factories are among the harshest working environments in US manufacturing. Cutting of poultry workers almost 5 times average for all industries, and government the study They document an alarmingly high rate of carpal tunnel syndrome (as high as 42 percent) among poultry processing plant workers. A typical poultry worker handles dozens of birds per minute. This situation has led to an average employee turnover of 60% of his.

The faster the line speed, Risk of harm. Nevertheless, despite criticism from industry, the USDA bowed to industry pressure to remove line speed caps, allowing some plants to run lines as fast as 175 birds per minute. allowed. outside the office.Last July, the USDA announced These factories will be required to participate in studies on the impact of increased line speeds on worker safety. The results of this study are not yet available, but the USDA shows little inclination to abandon its speed-up program. This is disappointing, as this study likely reached similar conclusions to previous studies. This means that poultry workers need better protection, such as line speeds that do not endanger workers.

American i love chicken, That’s true. But they also love justice and fairness. USDA reform won’t stop Americans from eating chicken, but it will help us feel better about it.

Thomas Gremillion is director of food policy for the Consumers Federation of America; David S. Mulaskin is director of food project litigation for Public Justice; He is a Practitioner Fellow. She was a former senior OSHA official.

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